Questions About Joining AMAPCEO
How do I join AMAPCEO?
In order for AMAPCEO to represent you and your colleagues, the independent Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB) will conduct a secret-ballot certification vote at your workplace—a vote that requires a majority of those voting for approval. To actually trigger that vote, however, the law requires at least 40 per cent of employees in your workplace to sign membership cards to signify their support for AMAPCEO to represent them. Although we need a minimum of 40 per cent sign-up, AMAPCEO won’t request a vote until there is a significant majority who have signed cards. Once these cards are signed, they are confidentially submitted to the OLRB as evidence that we have sufficient support. The employer does not know who has signed a card nor how an employee has voted in a certification vote.
Why should I join AMAPCEO?
By joining AMAPCEO, members are able to meaningfully engage their Employer to advocate for improvements, achieve common goals and address workplace issues. AMAPCEO has over 20 years of experience negotiating collective agreements with governments from all three major political parties and with a number of employers in the Broader Public Sector. A collective agreement codifies the rules and policies governing your workplace—protecting what you now have and providing a process for negotiating desired improvements. In a non-unionized environment, any employer HR policies can be changed unilaterally by the employer at any time.
If we form a union, can we lose entitlements we currently enjoy?
Once an application for union certification is filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board, your current terms and conditions of employment are frozen until your first collective agreement is negotiated. The employer, in other words, cannot unilaterally change them.
During negotiations, your employer is obligated to bargain with you in good faith and cannot retaliate against you for unionizing. While it is true that you will need to negotiate all of the terms and conditions that make up your collective agreement, including what you now have, you will have a say in what those conditions are and will vote on the final proposed agreement. Our goal is to codify what you now have and to seek improvements.
What does it cost to belong to AMAPCEO?
AMAPCEO membership dues are 1% of your gross salary and, like CPP contributions, are taken by payroll deduction. New members do not start paying dues, however, until after the first collective agreement has been successfully negotiated and approved. Union dues are 100% tax receiptable. Compared to other unions, AMAPCEO dues are at the lower end of the spectrum. AMAPCEO funds all of its operations from its membership dues, such as rent for its office in Toronto, salaries for its approximately 35 staff and costs to support communication, member training, internal governance and decision-making, and dispute resolution (including the cost of lawyers, if required, to defend members’ rights).
Can AMAPCEO take us on strike?
In over 20 years of existence, AMAPCEO has a record of achieving meaningful gains for its members through negotiations without needing to resort to strikes. AMAPCEO has a problem-solving approach to labour relations, while being principled and firm in representing members’ interests. Some of the members we represent in the health-care sector are not entitled to strike and enjoy access to binding arbitration if they reach an impasse in bargaining. Most of our members, however, negotiate under a process in which employees are entitled to strike and the employer is entitled to lock out employees—in both cases, only after negotiations have failed and following mediation. A decision to strike is not made by your union, however—it can only be made by you and your colleagues in a vote. Only a majority vote by the affected employees can authorize a strike, and only as a last resort if negotiations have stalled.
I don’t have a problem with the current management. Shouldn’t we give them a chance before we form a union?
Your current management may have the best intentions, but as we have seen elsewhere, senior management in many organizations tend to turn over fairly frequently. In addition, of course, employers in the public sector ultimately are directed by the provincial government, which has control over budgets and salary levels and how the public sector is organized. With a collective agreement, you can guarantee that your rights will be protected. In fact, a collective agreement can be a great tool for good managers; establishing rules and norms can increase transparency and fairness for everyone.
Will my employer ever find out who has signed a card?
No. Only AMAPCEO representatives and Labour Board officials see the cards. The employer will find out how many employees signed, but will never know who. That information is not released by the Labour Board. Forming a union and collective bargaining are protected rights guaranteed by Canadian law.
Can supervisors and managers stop us from joining AMAPCEO by threatening or intimidating us?
No, this is illegal. While some employers in the private sector often attempt to violate the law, most public sector managers are sophisticated enough to know not to engage in such behaviour.
Can I discuss joining AMAPCEO while at work?
Yes. Employers cannot prohibit you from having a discussion about joining AMAPCEO or forming a union provided the conversation is within the usual range of social interaction that is allowed in the workplace (for example, during coffee breaks, before and after work hours and at lunch time.) The general guideline is that employee discussion about the union, or signing union cards, cannot interfere with anyone getting their work done.
"One thing I would like a non-union worker to know about being unionized is the amazing support that a union provides to its members. Yes, unions are great because they advocate for better wages and benefits, but unions also help ensure that its members receive those benefits and are treated fairly by their employer. Having that support so you’re not ‘going it alone’ when faced with a difficult situation at your workplace is really empowering.”
-Becca Mador, Public Health Ontario, 4 years